By on January 31, 2011

Auto makers forget at their own peril that competitors are also working on better cars, and that customer expectations are consequently a moving target. When developing a new car, you can’t just aim to be better than today’s leaders. Case in point: the Hyundai Elantra. The 2007-2010 Elantra was so forgettable that I never remembered to drive one. One look at the new 2011 Elantra, on the other hand, suggests that it will upend the compact sedan status quo the way the Sonata has the midsize segment.

The good stuff with the new Elantra begins with its styling. The exterior, Hyundai’s best yet, is a well-executed assemblage of coupe-like curves and creases. Not that we haven’t seen tight proportions and an arched roofline in an affordable compact sedan before—Chrysler shook up the segment with this combination with the first Neon back in 1994. But, even compared to current competitors, such as the Civic it also somewhat resembles, the Hyundai appears both sportier and more upscale.

The new Elantra’s interior is nearly as adventurous and sporty as the exterior, without resorting to the faux tech gimmicky for which Honda has become infamous. There’s a steeply raked windshield but no van-like windowlettes, and the instruments are conventionally arranged. Ergonomics are generally good—there are even two door pulls to choose from—but the HVAC and audio controls are a little too far away to reach without leaning forward.

The interior also doesn’t look or feel as upscale as the exterior. The hard plastic is too obviously hard plastic, the wave-patterned cloth (though interesting to look at) isn’t remotely luxurious, and the car generally feels less substantial than its latest and greatest competitors (though it’s easily a match for the compacts of even a year ago). The cloth front seat cushions feel a touch mushy (they’re firmer with leather) and the front seatbacks provide too little lower back support. The new Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus both feel more solid, have higher quality interiors, and are fitted with much better front seats.

The Elantra does lead the Cruze and Focus in rear seat leg room. But don’t let the EPA midsize classification fool you—you’re still clearly sitting in a compact sedan back there. Thanks to the coupe-like roofline, anyone over 5-10 will discover insufficient headroom.

If Hyundai sees fit to again offer an Elantra GT, things could get interesting. Might the Sonata 2.0 turbo fit? For now, only one engine is offered: a 1.8-liter four-cylinder good for 148 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 131 pound-feet at 4,700 rpm. Decent specs for a 1.8, and acceleration is easily adequate for day-to-day driving, but the 2.4s and 2.5s offered in some competitors and even the Kia Forte are in a different league for anyone seeking thrills. The 1.8 is smooth and nearly silent at idle, but sounds increasingly buzzy as it revs. The transmission generally behaves well, but sometimes lugs the engine.

Fuel economy was clearly a higher priority than performance. Hyundai stresses that the 1.8 earns EPA ratings of 29/40 with either six-speed transmission, the manual or the automatic, and without resorting to tweaks limited to a special trim level. In suburban driving my observed fuel economy over a roughly ten-mile stretch ranged from 24 to 33 depending on the lightness of my foot and my red light karma. With a light but not hyper-miling foot and a stop every mile or so I observed 26. Slowly accelerating to 55 then driving five miles I observed 45, validating the highway rating. When decelerating you can sometimes feel the alternator cut in—a clutch completely disengages it much of the time.

Then there’s the 2011 Elantra’s handling. The electric-assist power steering provides little in the way of feedback and often feels artificial. Some heaviness on-center disappears when the wheel is turned. The chassis is nicely balanced and leans little in hard turns, but the suspension is underdamped and bounds over uneven expansion joints. The suspension geometry seems good, but the springs and shocks clearly need another round or two of sorting. Though the standard stability control performs far better than that in recent Kias, with much less obtrusive interventions, it still cuts in far too early in hard turns on dry pavement. Turn it off and handling remains safe.

The ill-sorted suspension tuning also affects the ride. Over all but smooth roads the Elantra’s constant bobbling about quickly proves tiresome. Not that the ride is harsh—it’s not—just busy busy busy. Aside from the engine when revved, noise levels are low for an affordable compact sedan.

How affordable is it? The tested Elantra GLS with Preferred Equipment Package lists for $18,445. A Honda Civic EX, with virtually the same level of content, lists for $2.700 more according to TrueDelta.com’s car price comparison tool.  A similarly equipped Chevrolet Cruze LT? About $1,500 more before adjusting for remaining feature differences, and about $900 more afterwards. And the 2012 Ford Focus SEL? About $2,550 more before adjusting for remaining feature differences, and about $1,100 more afterwards. Compare invoice prices, though, and the Hyundai’s price advantage shrinks—to only about $500 in the case of the Ford.

Even a year ago the new Hyundai Elantra might have been the compact sedan to beat for the non-enthusiast buyer. But Chevrolet’s and Ford’s latest entries into the segment substantially raise the bar for materials, refinement, and seating. Hyundai has been moving fast, but for once Detroit (or, to be precise, its overseas operations) has moved faster. Hyundai promises to keep revising its products more frequently than other manufacturers do. The new Elantra provides a very good foundation for the next revision.

Hyundai provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Michael Karesh owns and operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data

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123 Comments on “Review: 2011 Hyundai Elantra...”


  • avatar
    wsn

    Looks like a coherent exterior design.

    • 0 avatar
      king1122

      Most of the time I don’t make comments on websites, but I’d like to say that this article really forced me to do so. Really nice post! highest rate cd

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    Good read.  Surprised on the gentlemen C+/B- given to the Elantra in the review.  I’ve read endlessly how this car will crush all comers from the arm chair reviewers.  I love the exterior styling, the interior shot seemed to whisper “Buick” with the curves and lines of an Asian design studio derived interior.  I get its Hyundai but surprised to see the material quality found in the Sonata did not spill over into its smaller sibling, or ride/steering/feel.  Consumers will care about the interior quality; they won’t care about numb steering (look how many Corollas get sold, right or wrong).

    Like a lot of cars in this class (Cruze) the possibility of a hotter engine (2.0 turbo for both this and the Cruze) or a fuel sipping diesel becomes very interesting.

    Let the Chevy Cruze bashing begin in five, four, three, two, one…

    • 0 avatar

      The lumpy ride will matter more to most people than the handling. Most reviews say it rides well, but C&D shares my own impressions.
      The material quality is about average for the class. It’s not bad. It’s just that GM and Ford both made huge improvements with their new compacts.
      Reliability will likely be good, if the new Sonata is any indication. I hope to have initial reliability stats as soon as possible–just a matter of how soon enough owners get involved.
      To help with the Car Reliability Survey, with just about any car 1995 or newer:
      http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

    • 0 avatar
      thesal

      In India this christmas, there were already quite a few Chevy Cruze(s) sporting 2.0L diesels, and referred to as “the rocket” in ads, most likely on account of the 150hp.

      The indians are known to overstate performance (Suzuki SX4 was referred to as “the Man amongst Cars”), but compared to the Cruze available in NA, that diesel would truly feel like a Rocket!

    • 0 avatar
      maniceightball

      @thesal

    • 0 avatar
      snowallergy

      Government Motors wiped out (warm and fuzzy phrase) their bond holders in favor of the unions.  I could care less what they do.

    • 0 avatar
      tozigy

      Cruze is developed by GM Daewoo, a Korean car company. I’ve seen Cruze on our roads since 2008. Perhaps, US version is being manufactured in Ohio but we earn incentives from them. Sorry buddy… Spark, Aveo, and Orlando are in part developed in Korea.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I’m impressed with how the Koreans have figured out to design cars with soul in a way that Japanese designers never have. If they in fact farmed out their styling to someone else it was a good move. I can’t wait to see what the next Accent looks like.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    It may indeed be a decent car, but I am not a fan of the exterior styling. It looks far too much like a Civic to me (especially in profile). I don’t like the excessive ‘cab forward’ Civic styling and can’t seem to appreciate the coupe approach to rear head room. Perhaps an update Elantra Touring might be more to my taste.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Hyundai is clearly trying to change its demographics with its latest cars. All are tuned for a sportier ride than each of their predecessors. The previous generation Elantra and Sonata are actually more comfortable rides. That said, when you check off all the boxes, the Elantra hits the nail on the head. Better mileage, better warranty, great styling, and priced less than the competitors.

    Hyundai is keeping it simple – no automatic wipers, parking sensors, turbos and MyFordTouch-like complicated and expensive systems in the Elantra. Just a quality car at a great price.

    The world has turned upside down in 2011: Hyundai, Ford, and Chevy are selling on quality and features while Honda, Toyota, and Nissan sell on price!

  • avatar
    Russycle

    The styling isn’t working for me.  The interior is too busy–center console looks like a Transformer–and this segment doesn’t need a four-door coupe.  Other than pricing and impressive fuel mileage, the Elantra doesn’t seem to have a lot going for it, considering the competition.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    If Hyundai sees fit to again offer an Elantra GT

    The old Elantra GT (the one that was a nearly a dead-ringer for a Saab NG900) wasn’t any quicker or (much) sportier than the contemporary sedan.  It did have VWish purple instruments and the hatchback body, which was nice.  I haven’t heard plans for an update to the Elantra hatch.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      Chalk it up to some automakers using “GT” to denote increased performance (e.g., Pontiac, Ford) while others use it merely for a hatchback variant (BMW, Hyundai).

    • 0 avatar

      I didn’t mean that a new Elantra GT should be based on the same strategy as the old one. When I reviewed the old one I wondered whether GT simply meant “leather seats” in Korean.
      The unrelated (or at least not closely related) Elantra Touring serves the hatch market.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave W

      I did buy a new Elantra GT in 2002. If the new Elantra came as a hatch it would have been a contender to replace “Harriet” as our everyday/roadtrip car now that she’s pushing 138k. Shes preformed as expected (if not as advertised) and while not trouble free, for the price and total utility (I run a landscaping business out of her in the summer) I have no complaints. Oddly I like the old interior better, it doesn’t feel as busy, and the leather interior never did have the “new car smell” so many complain about in Hyundais.

      We looked hard at the Elantra touring, but to get a manual with cruise control pushed the price up into the $18,000 region, ludicrous in a car that starts at $15k. After driving it I had the same critique I have of my 2002. For the level of performance I expected a lot better gas mileage then it actually delivers. Oh well, we’re at about 700 miles on our new fiesta so I guess I’ll be watching this one from the sidelines.

      Since a GT is the enclosed version of an open car few mainstream companies ever did make them.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Oddly, I believe the 2011 Elantra Touring is really the 2010 Elantra Touring with the old body style, not what you see here.  I can’t think of another car where that’s been done before – having an old design and a new design selling side-by-side for a whole model year.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Rght off the top of my head, I know the BMW e30 Cabrio continued for at least one model year (maybe two) after the e36 Coupe and Sedan were released. Porsche routinely releases each generation of 911/Carrera in a couple of versions, and then spends the next 2-3 years replacing all the variants (Turbo, GT2, Cabrio, etc) while continuing production of the earlier version until the replacements are ready. Ford had old and new version F150s on the market side by side for a full model year.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Lots of cars where the various body styles are on different platforms.

      The VW Jetta Wagon is on the old MKIV platform still, not the one under the new Jetta sedan.

      BMW and Saab convertibles have usually lagged a year or two behind the sedans. Someone already mentioned Porsche, the track-focused cars are usually on the old platform for a while.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @Steve65, krhodes1:  Thanks, I’ve learned something.

    • 0 avatar

      The Elantra Touring isn’t closely related to the old Elantra either. It’s a lightly modified European-market Hyundai.

    • 0 avatar
      vbofw

      Jetta wagon is on the MKV I’d guess, not the MKIV (1999.5-2005).

  • avatar
    cmoibenlepro

    I love the style of the new Elantra.  Too bad the price went upscale at the same time as the looks.

    • 0 avatar
      beechmon

      it’s not so much the price, but there are no rebates with it… the price only went up about 200 or so. but you get a few extra features, like eletronic stability control and a much improved bluetooth connectivity…

  • avatar
    RGS920

    I just went to Hyundai’s website to price out an Elantra.  The manual transmission Elantra is priced exceptionally well.  However, $2,250 extra for an automatic transmission??  The only car company I found that charges more money for an optional automatic transmission is Porsche!  

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Does the autobox come bundled with other mandatory “options”, or is it stand-alone for $2250?

    • 0 avatar

      The automatic requires the $1250 Popular Equipment Package. You’re only paying $1,000 for the automatic, which isn’t bad for a manually-shiftable six-speed.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Yep. Having “built” a head-spinning number of cars in this class in the last few months, $1k for an optional automatic seems pretty much the norm. I’d love to know if there’s any actual cost difference anymore to the manufacturers, or if it’s just so well-established that autoboxs cost more they can give themselves some free money by charging more for them.

    • 0 avatar
      RGS920

      Ah you are correct Mr. Karesh.  The “Build Your Own Elantra” page is confusing because if you chose the automatic option it doesn’t tell you that the Popular Equipement Option is included.  However, if you choose the base model with a stick then one of the options is the popular equipment package which includes air conditioning and cruise control to name a few. 

  • avatar

    Test drove this with a friend yesterday who is looking for a new car for his 18-yr old daughter.  Drove the Cruze and walked across the street and drove this.  The Cruze won in every category except MPG, and we didn’t like the feel of the Elantra engine (felt lugging the entire time…obviously tuned for maximum MPG).  Visibility was very poor compared to the Cruze, but both suffer from the terrible “slit windows” syndrome every new car suffers from.  Hard to beat the warranty, though, which is a big consideration at this price point.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Looks outstanding, even caked with salt. The interior is also creative and fresh. But as you stated, this car is not perfect, and the Cruze and Focus are more than a match, while superior in some areas, as described above. However, looking great and feeling cheap is an improvement over looking cheap and feeling cheap. On the outside, at least, Hyundai/Kia has nailed the upscale look. Their new design language took some getting used to, but I’m now a firm supporter. If nothing else, it’s consistent, not scattershot like recent Ford, GM, and Honda offerings.

    My dad borrowed a Kia Sorento while his Accord V6 was getting dents banged out of it, and while the car looked great inside and out, the interior materials were appallingly junky by his standards, while the engine was anemic. He also wasn’t a fan of the unique (and strong) smell of the interior plastics. There’s no reason to believe the materials are any better in this Hyundai than the $30K+ Kia CUV.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I don’t know.  I’m seeing what amounts to a fashion-victim here, only we don’t see it yet because it’s still in style.  The exterior’s not bad (aside from the faux-coupe styling) but the interior has a bunch of issues:
    Why the vents pointed at your knees?
    Why the bulging console?
    The controls look nice, but they also look indistinct from each other and difficult to pick out at speed.  Haven’t seen the Focus, but the Cruze has this problem, too.
     
    Dorky as they might be, the Sentra (notably) and Corolla look better-packaged.  The Civic’s a little more avant-garde but the bisected gauge cluster and windowlettes are functional, and the interior controls aren’t hard to pick out.
     
    I will say this: it’s a world’s-better interpretation of this styling than the Sonata.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I was actually shocked at how much more I liked the Cruze than the new Elantra.
     
    However, the big black mark on the Cruze is the disappointing fuel economy.  Especially when you consider the 1.4 engine’s output.  The Elantra doesn’t have that problem.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      Dissapointing fuel economy compared to WHAT?  I still can’t figure out when people march this one out.

      Chevy Cruze LT/LTZ Auto 24/36
      Chevy Cruze ECO Manual 28/42

      Honda Civic EX Auto 25/36
      Toyota Corolla S 1.8 Auto 26/34
      Ford Focus SEL Auto 24/35
      Mazda3 i Touring 4 door 2.0 auto 25/33
      Hyundai Elantra 1.4 Auto 29/40
      Kia Forte 2.0 Auto 25/34
      Nissan Sentra 2.0 CVT 26/34

      Fiat 500 Manual 30/38
      Fiat 500 Auto 27/34
      Ford Fiesta Auto 28/37

      I picked cars (except the Fiat 500) that buyers would cross shop, I picked the HP/torque under the hood to be +/- 15 or so from the Cruze.  I provided automatic to automatic (except Fiat 500) and put the Cruze ECO number up for giggles.

      Now we can split hairs all we want about 1 MPG better or worse for each of these models.  Even at $5 a gallon 1 MPG highway or city difference is going to add up to pennies for average driver on a daily basis.

      $5.00 per gallon at 35 MPG I need to burn 14.285 gallons to go 500 miles. = $71.425
      $5.00 per gallon at 34 MPG I need to burn 14.705 gallons to go 500 miles. = $73.520

      12,000 miles in a year total difference $50.16 – which at $5 a gallon doesn’t even buy a tank of gas for any of these cars.

      The Elentra is the class leader for MPG.  To suggest that the Focus will magically get superior MPG to the smaller/lighter sibling Fiesta is a tad laughable.  The 2011 “refesh” Corolla is here and it screams, “Toyota, we’re not trying anymore.  No seriously, we just don’t care because you’ll buy this anyway because we call it a Corolla.”

      So how exactly is the fuel economy dissapointing compared to – well just about every other vehicle in the class???

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      @Holden:
       
      The Cruze is so good at everything else that it is a big disappointment to see it only manages 24/36/29 out of a 138hp 1.4L turbo.
       
      Its fuel economy compares okay with older engine’d compacts like the Corolla and Mazda3, but newer vehicles like the Focus, Forte 2.0 6A, Juke (premium recommended though), and Elantra all get better fuel economy while make making more power than the Chevy.
       
      For it’s price point and power level. the Cruze doesn’t meet my expectations for a new compact car, with a new engine, and a six-speed auto.
       
      If the Cruze 1.4L turbo made 168hp@4900, I’d be alright with it at 24/36.  Or, if it got 28/42 in normal LT automatic trim, I’d be happy with 138hp.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree with you. You have to pay extra for better gas mileage and in some cases, get a manual with most other offerings to match the Elantras. I did another round of test drives on Monday and could not find a Cruze Eco with an automatic within 600 miles of Houston, one of the largest cities in the nation! When I worked at a dealer, all the salesmen had demos so potential buyers always had a choice for a test drive. Not any more. Ford is just as guilty so I am not picking on Chevy. And how come no one mentions the torque steer on the Focus SE? It was very distracting and inexcusable. No. I have decided on the Elantra Limited (leather interior is much better). Great value, great gas mileage, good handling although its ride does not match the others (but it is the lightest of the group), great warranty and I had not trouble finding one to test drive in whatever trim level I wanted. No wonder some dealers are having trouble. If you do not stock it, you can not sell it.

    • 0 avatar

      The Cruze is very heavy, so something’s got to give. A necessary price for its solid feel?

  • avatar

    One of my friends is currently about to get a new small or mid work car. I showed him the ELANTRA, SONATA, CRUZE and tomorrow I’m going to take him to my Chrysler dealer because I’m trying to move him towards a new 2011 200 or Avenger.  He’s got about $30,000 so I’m trying to make sure he buys whatever he buys LOADED (moonroof, Nav,etc) and I’m trying to ensure he gets max warranties.
    He told me he likes the Kia Optima. I’m sure he’ll like the 200 more but that remains to be seen. If he did move towards the Kia, I’d prefer to get him into a Sonata 2.0T loaded.
    The Elantra is a nice car, but, Mike is absolutely right. Backseat space is very cramped unless you’re small.  for the prices they are asking, I’d rather get the Sonata.
    http://www.epinions.com/content_535594110596
    But, don’t worry too much about saving money on Fuel. I’m watching the news right now, and by the time Egypt (and the rest of the middle east) has finished burning down, gas will probably be $10 a gallon.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      So basically, you are trying to make sure he wastes all his money… nice friend…

      For $30k you could help him find a really good car, like a CPO 3-series or Lexus IS, maybe a CTS.  If he insists on new, there are better cars you can get for $30k… not one car on your list should sell for over $24k even with all the dumb options you are for some reason INSISTING on.  And whats with having him waste $2k on nav, which everyone knows is a BS option?  Buy a $100 GPS for the few times you actually need it.  And the dealer optional warranty?  People still buy those??  Buy your own warranty for half price if you need the assurance.

      Save him some money and put him in the car he needs, not the car you wish you were buying.  The Chryslers are clearly minor styling updates on thier old junk, why would you insist on that??

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, I don’t get this either – why do you need to make sure he dumps all $30k on this car? Do you work at this Chrysler dealer you’re speaking of?
       
      And I agree that for $30k there are way, way better choices out there…

    • 0 avatar
      vbofw

      But, don’t worry too much about saving money on Fuel. I’m watching the news right now, and by the time Egypt (and the rest of the middle east) has finished burning down, gas will probably be $10 a gallon.

      @bigtruckseries – gas rocketing to $10.00/gallon would make the value of the Elantra skyrocket.  At $3.00 gas, the Elantra would save a 12,000 mile/year driver $300/year over a 30mpg car.  At $10.00 gas, the Elantra driver would save $700/year over the 30mpg car.

    • 0 avatar

      Waste money?
      I’d rather have a Dodge Charger  than ANYTHING Hyundai currently builds…INCLUDING THAT RIPOFF LS460 EQUUS.

  • avatar

    I don’t want to sound like a Detroit cheerleader, but it seems that a lot of reviewers are saying that with the Cruze, Focus and Fiesta, GM & Ford finally have product in the compact and subcompact segments that are far better than just competitive with other brands.
    Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post is not a car reviewer, so his review of the Chevy Volt is the reaction of a consumer with an ingrained bias against Detroit (and Weingarten admits it) and he came away very impressed with the Volt. Read his story about the Volt and watch a mind being changed about the domestic car industry.
    It’s possible, at least on the product side of things, that Detroit gets it finally, but then the true believers in the Motor City weren’t the problem, it was the managers and the bean counters.

  • avatar
    Wagen

    Great timing of this review, as I had one for a rental last week and came away with very similar impressions.  The only competitors I’ve driven are the current model year Corolla and Civic (also as rentals; I won’t include the previous-generation Focus as a fair comparison). 

    Pros: I really appreciated the economy on some longer highway trips and found the instrument panel/dash to be refreshingly modern yet still logically laid out and easily legible (contrast Civic).  While I wouldn’t exactly rate rear seat comfort/headroom as stellar, I was very impressed with the amount of legroom available when the driver’s seat was adjusted to sit “behind myself.”  In the rear seat photo above, it appears as though the front passenger seat must be at the end of its rearward travel.

    Cons: A slight hesitation before downshifting, exacerbated by throttle calibration that is obviously economy-minded.  I am not a fan of the throttle in any of the trio that sees no speed decrease when pulling off the throttle fully.  The front seats also seemed strangely uncomfortable, perhaps due to the lateral support that doesn’t extend up the full length of the seat cushion.  Also I wonder if the ride would have been helped by leaving 15″ 65 series tires instead of the preferred equipment package’s 16″x55s.

    My summary: “why would anyone buy a Corolla when they can have this?”  But, the choice between this and a Civic would be a bit more difficult. 

    Re: radio tuning… I was able to tune it in a downward direction on the non-nav equipped PEP GLS I had, but the buttons, as they were labeled, would not make it appear to be the case.  The button right below tune/+ (forget what it was labeled exactly) to the left of the power/volume knob tuned in the downward direction.  While speaking of the stereo, it’s nice that XM is standard, and as someone who would appreciate a Saab-esque “night panel” feature in any car, it was nice if unnecessary feature that you could turn off the display while leaving the stereo on.

  • avatar
    John R

    I will give it this – it’s a damn sight prettier than the Cruze.
     
    The 2.0l turbo might be over kill, but the DI NA 2.0l might be just about right for a modest price increase. 200hp is more than enough for a car this light. I understand it’s some 300lb lighter than the new Focus.

    • 0 avatar

      The 2.0 aside from being much more powerful is also more refined. It would do well in this car. But I was shooting for the moon.
      The price increase would probably be at least $1,000, since you’re also adding DI. It’d be worth it. Fuel economy shouldn’t take much of a hit, since the 2.0 gets 35 MPG highway in the heavier Sonata.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Another pointless pseudo-coupe sedan thing. Something this size is completely useless without a hatch, and to get even remotely usable rear headroom the seat has to be sitting practically on the floor. The Versa may be dorky, but even in silly-sedan form full-size modern humans can sit in the back of it. If you don’t need a back seat, you might as well buy a Miata.

    Overall, sounds like adequate basic transportation at a ridiculous cost. Though why anyone would pay $18K for this when the same money will get them a low-miles CPO Saab 9-3 with the same or better warranty is beyond me. Heaven forbid 22K for a Civic.

    • 0 avatar
      strafer

      CPO Saab comes with 10 year or better warranty?  What if you’re not in the Navy?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Though why anyone would pay $18K for this when the same money will get them a low-miles CPO Saab 9-3 with the same or better warranty is beyond me.
       
      Because the Elantra has more passenger volume (including rear seat headroom, but 2″ less rear legroom), substantially better fuel economy (29/40 vs 17/27), a better warranty (10/100 vs 4/50), 1/2 the price when new, and a viable dealer network. Hmm, tough call.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      For the same reason anybody buys a lower-market new car over a similarly-priced higher-market used car: because for a bunch of reasons, some people aren’t interested in buying a used car. Yes, you can get a lot of car for the money buying used. You can also end up with a completley unexpected failure and no (or limited) warranty to cover it.
       
      Just yesterday, I rejected what had been up to that moment a very strong contender on our prospect list. I rejected it because I found an oil and water froth on the inside of the oil filler cap. Up til then, it looked  great.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      “Though why anyone would pay $18K for this when the same money will get them a low-miles CPO Saab 9-3 with the same or better warranty is beyond me. ”

      It’s you …

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      A CPO Saab is warrantied to 100K miles as well, though admittedly not to 10 years. And given the experience of several Hyundai-owning coworkers in getting warranty repairs done on older cars, good luck with that.

      MSRP may be 2X as much (for 3x as much car), but considering you can buy NEW 2011 9-3s all day long for $24K, I find $18-22K for something like this completely ridiculous. As a 14K stripper, maybe. And I get 32-33mpg with my 9-3SC on the highway, EPA is 21/31. No shortage of Saab dealers and indy mechanics near me. I am a long-torso’d 6’2″ and can sit very comfortably in the back of a 9-3, the author noted that a 5’10 person will lack headroom in the Elantra. Numbers are meaningless when dealing with passenger room, just like the nearly arbitrary “compact” vs. “mid-size” designations.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Because its easier to get financing, easier to get tradeins… easier to buy in the right color or with the right options… because some people simply hate used cars… for example, do you realize how hard it is to find a used car that some asshole hasnt smoked in??  I read something like 70% of used cars have been smoked in.  To a non-smoker, that kills it.  A new car is brand new, you know everything that has ever happened to it, if you keep it maintained and clean you know its history.  Not everyone is best served by a used car.

      But I bought used too… LOL…

    • 0 avatar

      As much as I’m not a fan of Saabs, the man has a point. At $18-22k for a loaded new Civic or Elantra, you’re paying through the nose just to get basic transportation. And all for what? The precious “new car smell”? After all, there’s no guarantee that a new car will actually be reliable – some *do* turn out to be lemons, and many CPO cars turn out to be pretty terrific.
       
      By the way, am I the only one who thinks buying a “loaded” Civic, Corolla, Elantra, etc is insane? The value represented in compacts like these tends to steadily diminish as the options get piled on. Witness the last-gen Jetta, which apparently could be optioned all the way up to $30k(!!!)

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Don’t forget that not everybody wants a car that the previous owner (or their kids) had sex in or did drugs in.  A former co-worker found hash stashed under the seat of a recently purchased used car just before he was going to drive the car into Canada.  Hate to think what could have happened if the DEA dogs had sniffed it out at the border crossing.
       
      Have you forgotten what the younger you did in/to your parents cars?  I’ll stick with new.

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      In my area, there’s a town tax on your vehicle’s MSRP, so even if you bought your $45K hooptie at $18K, your tax is based on the $45K original price.

    • 0 avatar
      cdnsfan27

      Local dealer in Tampa is advertizing brand new 2010 93′s for 24K. If it was still a hatch I might bite but I just don’t get a Saab sedan. Makes me wistful for my 1993 900S though. I loved that car…for awhile…until I brought it home from Germany and found out how costly service on Saab’s was in Canada…and the look on the guy’s face at Canadian Tire when he told me that they do not ever ever work on Saabs.

    • 0 avatar
      jeremie

      @ Toad. Yeah it’s funny to me that some people won’t consider used a because of what may have happened in the back seat before they bought it. I remember a show where one of these wealthy wives shopping for a home wouldn’t consider a previously owned home because it would be “icky”. I wanted to reach through the TV and smack her.

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    Would absolutely LOVE to see a back-to-back comparison test with the new Focus, Elantra, Cruze, and refreshed Civic and Corolla. Can’t remember the last time so many cars in the same segment were redesigned around the same time.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Car and Driver does such a comparison every so often. The Mazda3 wins a lot. Don’t know if it will fare as well next time against the current competition, though.

      • 0 avatar

        Car and Driver tests all their cars the same way, like children. No agenda, just drive the shit out of them for fun and get back from a long lunch to finish the article before quitting time. What a waste of resources. Cars are tools and each one has a different purpose and market. They should be tested as such. Skidpad numbers and lateral g’s are NOT what the segment is about to those new to compact/economy vehicles like me. I have a sports car, I have a luxury sedan, I have a SUV. I want an economy car that gets good gas mileage for my 100 mile commute starting next week. Even C&D admits all their metrics are within hundreths of one another. I have tired of their antics and Baruth’s article just reinforces my sentiment.

    • 0 avatar

      As long as Ford doesn’t muck up the handling like it did with the Fiesta, I suspect the Focus should win. The Mazda3 might remain the most enjoyable to drive, followed by the Mitsubishi Lancer. The Cruze feels incredibly solid, but not much fun.

      • 0 avatar

        My only real complaint with the Focus SE was the annoying torque steer (which no one seems to have written about) and its premium for better gas mileage. It does ride better than most but it is also the porker of the group, as you mentioned.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      If the Mazda 3 wins a lot, that’s not helping them sell cars.  Mazda’s sales are flat, and they remain a bit player in the US.

  • avatar
    strafer

    I think large part of success of the new Elantra will depend on how high the gas price rises this summer.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Four door coupes: the automotive equivalent of Mom Jeans.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    Blah styling, ok looking interior. Why do so many cars look like distorted eggs with windows?

  • avatar
    zeus01

    I like the styling. My ’09 Fit is still bulletproof at 100,000 kms, so I’m not yet looking to replace it. But if I were in the market for a new car the ’11 Elantra would win out over the Cruzefor the following reason: The Cruze is a new design from a manufacturer that may well have turned the corner away from the likes of Cobalt and Cavalier— but it’s too soon to know how reliable GM’s new cars will prove to be. And We’ve been burned before.

    I’ll take reliability over a more upscale interior any day. Gen-yew-wine Corinthian leather didn’t turn the Cordoba into a Rolls Royce. An apple is not an orange.

    Hyundai went from dud to stud over a period of a couple of years. There’s no reason to believe that GM can’t do the same. But until the verdict is in from Consumer Reports, True Delta and Lemon Aid I’d steer clear.

    • 0 avatar

      +1

      Many of us still remember what a Chevy economy car was really like. Besides, I could not find a Cruze Eco with an automatic to test drive. Another cost cutting measure that kills sales. Salesmen were given demos for a reason. I guess the bean counters need to get out more.

  • avatar

    Great review.
    Very good to learn about the suspension and its pogostick dampers.
     
    C’mon Hyundai! You can afford at LEAST some KYB GR2s on your cars, if you won’t spring for the Konis!!!

  • avatar
    BobJava

    Am I the only one that hates the gigantic pull bars manufacturers are putting on the front door interiors? They completely block the window and lock controls. The Camry does this too. I don’t understand it one bit. It’s a pain, literally, to reach these controls — something you might do several times in a single trip.

    Also surprising is the amount of engine noise in this car. I drove a Kia Forte (supposed to be the youthful, sporty brand, right?) and it was one of the quietest compacts I’ve ever driven. The last generation Sonata and Elantra were pretty quiet too. What’s (not) going on at Hyundai? Gotta cut those costs I guess.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    I don’t see how this is a compact.

  • avatar
    Ducky

    Is it possible that some of the general lumpiness is due to the torsion beam rear suspension? When they are well tuned they work fairly well as long as you aren’t driving too hard over rough roads… but when they are tuned poorly (somewhat like the Mazda2), they are lumpy as heck over rough roads.

    • 0 avatar

      On smooth roads the chassis feels pretty good, even though the steering is relentlessly blah. Plenty of cars with torsion beams ride better. I feel it’s all about the tuning.
      From the specs it does appear that there’s no rear stabilizer bar, which can make a ride feel lumpier. Surprising there’s not more understeer and sway given this omission.

    • 0 avatar
      beechmon

      one thing that i have experienced is on test drives with my customers, that the cars come in with a high psi in the tires and need to be deflated… once this is done, the ride is much much more pleasant…

    • 0 avatar

      I’m aware that this can be the case with cars at dealers. But the fleet services company that handles these cars carefully checks tire pressures.

  • avatar
    klossfam

    Michael – I’d agree – I just drove a the new GLS and a Limited as well.  The ride is pretty busy and a surprising amount of noise intrudes into the cabin vs. the last gen Elantra (circa 2007-2010).  If you missed the last gen – or can’t remember you missed it – you should catch up with one as they still rent them – it is truly a very quiet, smooth operator for a compact…More so than it got credit for IMO.

    While I’d agree that Ford and Chevy have caught up, there is still quite a value difference in real life…Using list prices, check a loaded Elantra Limited with Nav and heated rear seats vs a loaded Cruze LTZ…The Elantra is literally $2,500-ish less and 8 out of 10 people would go the Hyundai route if it was their money…and if I’m buying Korean, I chose Hyundai over Daewoo.

  • avatar
    MBella

    I was about to write how I thought the big story was the standard equipment that comes on the $14,800 base model. Then I went to their site, and found out that you have to have the popular equipment package to get air conditioning, and the big news wasn’t so big anymore.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    Hyundai:
     
    Put the 2.0T in, with a 6-speed manual (and optional automatic for those who can’t be bothered to shift their own gears) and AWD. An “Elantra GT” so equipped around $25k would seriously challenge the WRX and Evo at their own game, as well as the wrong-wheel drive Mazdaspeed 3 and VW GTI.

  • avatar
    spyked

    All these new compacts are great.  Nice to see the segment being taken seriously.  For the money though, how can you not buy the VW Golf?  Made in Germany and with an unparalleled interior and classic hatch looks/utility.

    • 0 avatar
      klossfam

      spyked – That is a good point – I brought the Golf up once in a compact review and was ignored – so I didn’t want you to be…the VW Golf/Rabbit – since the Mark V in 2006 has been a class leader without really being recognized as such (other than in GTI form)…The 2.5L I5 takes a bad rap but is a pretty cool engine.  My son bought a new 2006 Rabbit with the only option being a Tiptronic 6 speed.  It’s been a great car…Great materials, reliable, good utility and the 2.5L is never stressed (and a respectable 23-24 mpg around town and a true 30 mpg on the hwy).  Even vs the new Elantra, current Civic, etc a Golf is like driving a REAL car vs an econo box…It feels substantially more substantial…
       

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      For the money though, how can you not buy the VW Golf?
       
      Mainly because the quality of products from Hyundai and VW have gone in opposite directions over the last decade.  My 02 Passat had about a dozen unscheduled trips to the dealer in its first 3 years.  VW ranks on par with Fiat for perceived quality these days, IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        jplew138

        For the money though, how can you not buy the VW Golf?

        Simple, because the 2.5 Golf is seriously decontented compared to virtually EVERYTHING else in its class. To get a Golf with the types of wheels and interior amenities that come standard on, say, a Ford Focus SE, you have to get a Golf diesel, and that bases out at around $24k.

    • 0 avatar
      spyked

      Mainly because the quality of products from Hyundai and VW have gone in opposite directions over the last decade.  My 02 Passat had about a dozen unscheduled trips to the dealer in its first 3 years.  VW ranks on par with Fiat for perceived quality these days, IMO.

      There’s a definite disconnect here in the States.  The Golf, like the Corolla, is one of the best selling cars, ever, in the entire world.  And it’s beat on by families in Europe, serves taxicab duty, delivers materials for companies, etc.  And even CR notes that the Golf/Rabbit and non-GLI Jettas are just as “reliable” as Corollas.

      That’s where I think the Elantra and the other outliers will have problems.  People that buy compacts either want bland and safe like a Corolla, or super-Asian and trendy like a Mazda3.  Not many buyers left for Elantra, Focus, Cruze, and even Golf (in the U.S.).  I guess they wouldn’t market and build the cars if they didn’t have enough buyers.  Again, I’m hoping to see more Elantras on the road if it means less Corollas on the road.  Easier on my eyes! ;)

      And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mazda3 gets a mid-cycle refresh here soon that fixes the front end.  Mazda and Acura, once fine looking cars, have gone too far, too Asian, and they need to dial it down a bit.  BMW is the only company that can get away with making ugly cars that sell ;)

  • avatar

    The Elantra is the ONLY compact sedan I find not only attractive, but damn near stunning to behold. It’s a shame the interior and driving experience don’t quite match the promise of the exterior… though for the price and warranty, I’m sure many, many buyers will consider the tradeoff acceptable. (I might, too.)
     
    Hyundai will probably find its biggest battle to be winning over the hearts and minds of those cross-shopping the Elantra with the ’12 Focus, and upcoming Civic. I seriously don’t think the Cruze is a consideration for most of these buyers — there’s too much hatred and distrust of GM out there. That’s kind of a shame, as Daewoo has designed a fairly decent car with the Cruze…

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    The alternator isn’t mostly disengaged. From the looks of the engine bay it is hard to tell if they are using the simple OWC (one way clutch) or an OAD (overruning alt decoupler). In the case of the OWC it allows the alternator to spin faster than the pulley but not slower. The OAD includes that feature but adds a spring to absorb the power pulses allowing it to spin slower than the pulley for a few milliseconds at a time. Both are used to improve fuel economy by lowering the required tension to prevent slipping. That reduces the friction between the belt and pulley because the belt isn’t pulled as deep into the V’s. They can also turn off the field but you can’t get away with that for long because you’ll need to charge that battery back up some time.

    • 0 avatar

      When I had the engine running with the hood open the alternator was not spinning at all. How could this be possible without a clutch? Hyundai calls it a “smart alternator” and credits it with a 2.5% bump in fuel economy. I can’t find additional details.

      • 0 avatar

        What I did not like about the Eco feature in the Hyundai was that it killed the A/C during hard acceleration. Not a good thing here in Houston during the summer. At least it can be turned off until the cabin temp reaches a livable level. Other than that, I think it will be in our driveway soon.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Very interesting so was the belt and pulley spinning and you couldn’t see the internals of the alt spinning or was the belt and pulley stationary? Either way I’m not buying the 2.5% improvement in MPG. Simple physics says the alternator has to supply the energy to run the accessories and re-charge the battery if not at a constant low output then then pulses of high output. Yes the energy required to turn the mass and the friction of the bearings is constant so in theory there is some savings there but I don’t believe it could reach 2.5% on it’s own. That also means the alternator will be producing high power for most of it’s time of operation reducing longevity. Throw in the clutch whether at the crank or alt and you have the recipe for a large expense to repair the system when something goes wrong. Heck the relatively simple OWC costs as much as an reman alternator for an older car. Battery life will also suffer as the only way to fully recharge it requires that low output. Yes you can recharge it to most of it’s capacity quickly but never bringing it to a full charge and continuously draining it means a short battery life. If you do find more info on it I’d love to see it as a mechanic, although a fleet truck one, I try to keep up on the latest tech.

    • 0 avatar

      Belt spinning, alternator not. Looking at the photos I took of the running engine confirms this, as the pulley is a blur while the copper windings are stationary.
      When the alternator does kick in fully while braking you feel it big time, and it likely has a higher maximum output than an alternator that operates more constantly. t feels somewhat like the regenerative brakes in a hybrid, and is probably similar to the “regenerative braking system” now on most BMWs.
      This “smart” alternator used to be part of the Blue package, and is still part of the Eco package on the Kia Forte. Hyundai has been doing their best to get credit with putting it on all Elantras, and not just those with a special package.
      Got to remember this is 2.5% of a fuel efficient car. It’s equivalent to about 0.7 MPG.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The copper windings you see under the vents are the Stator (from the word stationary) so they never move, you have to look deeper to see the Rotor which may only be visible looking through the front or back. My bet is they are just cutting turning the field off and back on, which is not a new thing, and using a OWC pulley. .

  • avatar
    zeus01

    If the Mazda 3 wins a lot, that’s not helping them sell cars.  Mazda’s sales are flat, and they remain a bit player in the US.
     
     
    A couple decades ago comedian Dennis Miller blurted out this gem: “Over the last few years Levi Straus’ jeans sales dropped over 50%. Why is that? Here’s a clue: Hey Levi! Quit advertising my waist size on your products!!”
    And now 20 years later it’s time for Mazda to receive a similar wake-up call:
    “Hey Mazda! Quit killing your sales of otherwise excellent cars by cursing them with those ugly smiley-face grilles!!”

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Agreed.
       
      I believe Acura adopted its current front because its previous generation grills were copied by Mazda.  Mazda then went to its evil clown grill, easily the ugliest front on any current model car.
       
      As a third-tier manufacturer in an increasingly competitive world market, I expect Mazda will either be absorbed or wither away in the next decade.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Tested the Limited variant the other weekend, and came away pretty impressed.  I did notice that the brakes were pretty quick to grab.  Otherwise, I thought it was a well conceived product.  Like others have stated, it’s good to see the compact segment gaining traction and attention.  And while the Golf might be a more “drivers” car, the statistical reliability of VW in general is still enough to scare most people off (yes, people can write here and say how stone reliable their VW has been…but one or two data points do not a trend make). 
    If we were in the market for a new car, the Elantra would be high up on the list…

  • avatar
    JMII

    Wife saw an ad for this car on TV and nearly screamed out “is that a Hyundai? man that looks GOOD, I rather drive that then a Civic”. Times are a changing. The dash is a touch over curve-y but compared to the Civic its miles ahead in the ease-of-use / find-the-button-now department. I saw one on the road two days ago and the front is aggressive yet smooth and flowing, it really looks like a car from the future. The seats look flat and hard, but that’s the norm in this range of car.
     
    Do the rear windows roll all the way down? If so in addition to avoiding the Civic’s front sail windows (due to windshield rake) they avoided the silly notch window on the back doors as well. The car has a really clean profile.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    I was able to get a few short drives in the new Elantra over the weekend (at a GM event no less) so I could compare it with the new Cruze. All in all I agree that the Cruze felt more solid and substantial than the Elantra in terms of interior quality and ride comfort, though the Elantra was clearly the looker of the two. However, the Elantra was quicker, more light footed and easier to drive through the cones and felt noticeably tauter than the Cruze (disclaimer: I didn’t touch the Cruze with RS package because, well, it was a busy day). The transmission was responsive, willing to kick down 2 or three gears on when an upshift was callled for, but the manual gates were frustrating to use.
     
    The new Elantra is good 2 steps ahead of the old car and, in my opinion, just about keeping pace with the competition. The interior materials could be nicer and the stereo controls could be a little closer to the driver., but all in all, I’d say it’s a solid effort on Hyundai’s part. It can only get better from here on out.

  • avatar
    7th Frog

    On the steering feel:
     
    I had a Sonata rental a few months ago and I really liked it except for that goddamn awful artificial steering feel. It felt like it was fighting against my inputs. I couldn’t live with that day in and day out. I guess the new elantra has the same video game feel in the steering.

  • avatar
    Helix

    Very insightful review, Michael, but I found your price comparison section confusing and potentially misleading. Prices being completely equal on features, options, etc, I don’t think anybody would choose a Hyundai over a Ford so can you please elaborate on why you feel there might only end up being a $500.00 difference between the cars?

    We were shopping the 2012 Ford Focus until we realized that the SEL edition sedan with bluetooth handsfree calling, heated seats (We live in Canada) and sunroof and automatic transmission (my wife would drive the car more than I would) was several thousands more than the similarly equipped Elantra. With taxes (13% in Ontario) those thousands quickly almost reached another half a thousand more.
    I’m sure there are Canadian/American price differences at work here but you did mention price differences originally that seemed to fit with what I’m experiencing using the price configurator at Ford.ca as well, only to sort of suggest that it might not matter in the end so it’s that talk of the minimal $500.00 in your review that confused me and made me wonder if perhaps I’d missed something.

    I have the Ford Focus SEL coming out at $21,499 and the cost of automatic transmission, sunroof (which auto upgrades the interior to leather even though I wouldn’t normally be willing to pay extra for that but it’s part of the package so it comes anyway) to $2950. This brings the pre-tax/pre-freight price to around $24449. The freight is $1450 here for the 2012 Ford Focus.

    The Elantra, by contrast, has much of these options as standard in the GLS preferred package. They have their own rip-off version of bluetooth handsfree wireless calling, heated seats in the front and back, 16″ alloys, and power sunroof in this package coming out to $20,999 with an automatic 6 speed shifttronic transmission. The freight for the Elantra here is a similar $1495.

    So, with the exception of missing out on the leather in the 2012 Ford Focus and Sync, I can’t rationalize the $3450 difference I’m getting between the 2 vehicles. The tax (13% in Ontario) on the price difference alone is an additional $448.50 that I’d be giving to the government if I bought the Ford.

    How can I minimize the cost differences there to $500.00? How does that invoice cost come into play? While I’m sure our prices are different (being in different countries) it seems as though the numbers you mentioned originally were similarly thousands higher (just as I’m seeing) so could you please explain in a little big more detail the lack of a price advantage that Hyundai seems to have? I see a huge advantage and I’m sure others do too.

    Thank you in advance!

    • 0 avatar
      cdnsfan27

      It really depends on what you want in a vehicle. If you want reliable and economical transportation from point A to point B, wrapped up in an attractive package then your best bet is the Elantra. If you really like to drive your car and have fun doing it then you have to buy the Focus. The driving dynamics are worlds apart.

    • 0 avatar

      Canadian prices might be different. Also…
       
      I didn’t equip either vehicle with a sunroof or leather. Even then, the Ford’s MSRP is $2,550 higher.
      But I then adjusted for the Ford’s additional features using TrueDelta’s default values (members can specify their own values). This reduced the MSRP difference to about $1,100.
      Finally, I looked at the difference in invoice prices AFTER this feature adjustment. This is about $500, because the Focus has a larger dealer margin. The difference in invoice prices often better reflects the price you’ll actually pay than the difference in sticker prices.

      • 0 avatar
        jplew138

        I just looked at the price difference between a comparable Elantra GLS and a comparably equipped Focus SE. The Hyundai topped out at $ 18,350, and the Focus topped out at $21,180. Both cars were specified with auto transmissions, and the Focus had to be ordered with the top package in order to equal the Hyundai’s satellite radio, which is standard on the Elantra and optional on the Focus.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    Holden is right. The real world DIFFERENTIAL in gas cost over a year is so tiny its one of the more inconsequential financial decisions anyone will make. So why are so many people focusing on fuel mileage above all else? At least in forums? Are we all sheep, stupid, or pawns of the manufacturer’s ad campaigns? I’d be embarrassed to put such lack of reality on public display for others to laugh at me.

    • 0 avatar
      jplew138

      It’s simple, Doug…most Americans are simple-minded, and they will believe almost anything they hear or see on TV. Of course you’re right…the differential is very small, but most people don’t want to hear that…they just look at the numbers. And if you look at it realistically, the maximum range for most cars – no matter the size, is roughly the same…mainly having to do with the size of the fuel tanks on most cars.

  • avatar
    Helix

    It’s not just the money. At least not for me and I’m sure not for some other people. My wife currently drives a 1999 Sunfire she’s had since we were in University. According to US estimates, that car consumes 14.9 barrels of petroleum annually and a lot of that goes to the Middle East. Beyond the fact that I don’t like making foreign oil barrens rich if I can help it, the 2011 Elantra also produces about 45% less green house CO2 emissions than the car she’s currently driving.

    Now, I love power as much as the next guy but if North America, collectively, switched away from the kinds of cars we’re hoping to retire (or worse) and more toward cars like the Elantra (or even more fuel efficient and less dirty) we’d make foreign oil interests less money and improve the air quality of our environment. And all this on top of some cheaper road trips where we can spend more money on beer when money’s tight!

    Why not?

  • avatar
    Helix

    And if we don’t reward progress (no matter how small it might seem) with our money then things have a tendency of returning to the way they were.

    Money rules everything so the more we reward clean technology innovations (or anything else that you’re interested in trying to improve about the way the world’s headed no matter what it might be)with our pocketbooks the more likely corporations and the scientists they hire will continue to make new advancements and continue to push things forward.

  • avatar
    snowallergy

    Lots of problems popping up with the 2011 sonata.  I think hyundai should ‘focus’ on building a reliable car before worrying about added bells and whistles. They still haven’t gotten the basics right.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    I’m not seeing it either. Not in Consumer Reports or yet in Lemon Aid, a pair of entities whose opinions can’t be bought for any price. I’m wondering about his source too, and said source’s validity and potential bias.

  • avatar

    I am a person that would never have considered an economy car. But, as a drive farther and farther to work, gas mileage is starting to become a consideration when buying transportation for work, 84 miles round trip. Some have asked why one would buy a fully loaded Elantra? I ask myself the same question until I realize that i am going to have to live in this vehicle and if I am forced to drive an anemic mode of transporation, I might as well make the experience as enjoyable as possible. I agree that Navigation may be a rip off and a $100 Gamin is just as good a solution. Seat heat may not seem so unneccessary. I am still researching the issue but the warranty, the design, the performance, and the reliability should make the Japanese and the Germans take notice.

  • avatar
    don1967

    We recently took delivery of a 2011 Elantra (as a second car that is threatening to become our first car), and after a few hundred km would agree that Hyundai’s suspension technology continues to lag a step behind.  It feels well-planted most of the time, but gets busy on rough roads as Michael says.  It also produces some sideways hop when corning over bumps.
     
    On the positive side, the snarly little 1.8 works nicely with Hyundai’s new six-speed slushbox. The car is efficiently-sized for families of four, and has a pleasant lightness that almost recalls the early-90s Honda Accord.   Hopefully this is a sign that the 2800-pound family sedan is about to make a comeback.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    I rented a 2011 Elantra (automatic transmission, good luck finding a manual transmission at a rental outlet) in London, Ontario, Canada a couple of months back. The car had over 2600 kms on the odometer at that point, so it was already past its break-in period and therefore no longer exhibiting the usual break-in period excess fuel consumption penalty. I filled the tank to the top of the filler neck, set the trip-odometer to zero and then drove the car as I normally would, ie: no hyper-miling, no insanely aggressive driving habits, just moving along with the flow at typical speeds on secondary routes of around 80 to 90 kms per hour. There were a very few short trips on the main highway at 100 to 110 km/hr (60-70mph) and even fewer incidences of city stop-and-go driving.

    Also, this driving was not all at once with an already-warm engine but rather, to-and-from work, some leisurely drives after work, etc. Over the two days I consumed almost 1/2-tank of gas. I then returned to the same gas station and same pump at the same time of day as the original fill-up and about the same ambient temp. I recorded the kms driven, filled the tank back up to the top of the filler neck and recorded the liters of fuel delivered.

    After crunching the numbers and then converting kms per liter into miles per IMPERIAL gallon (which are larger than U.S. gallons) I arrived at 35.8 miles per Imperial gallon. This works out to about 29.8 miles per U.S. gallon. (No errors on my part either. I triple-checked, verified and math is a subject I’m very good at).

    I’m not sure what the gearing is with the 6-speed manual vs. the automatic, but assuming the usual figures it’s possible that with the manual transmission I could have seen 40 miles per imperial gallon or 33 miles per U.S. gallon. Hyper-miling techniques with an already-warm engine and all driving done in that one trip rather than broken up *might* have yielded 45 mpg (imperial) or around 40 miles per U.S.gallon.

    But here in Canada the Hyundai dealerships that I’ve driven by are proclaiming in big yellow letters on the side of their Elantras a whopping 58 mpg(!). They are LYING to us. U.S.-based Hyundai websites are claiming 40 miles per U.S. gallon, which is around 48 miles per imperial gallon. From an engineering standpoint the 148 hp engine, combined with the size and weight of the car, acceleration figures and interpolating the gearing with said figures the 58 mpg just doesn’t add up.

    True, engines are more efficient than they used to be. But from a Basic Specific Fuel Consumption (BSFC) calculation the 58 mpg is sketchy even with the most carefully-doctored manufacturer test environment. And for every day driving it’s a complete fallacy.

    Furthermore, reports from buyers here that I know have discovered that the dealers in our area seem to go very far out of their way to avoid telling you the real price of the car. Instead, they advertise “$__ per week” or something of that nature, never revealing of course for how many “weeks” you’ll be paying that amount. True, the MSRP is listed on the window sticker, but we all know that price leaves room for a host of back-end dealer add-on shenanigans and smoke-and-mirrors ruses. Trying to get these weasels to come clean is an exercise in futility. High demand = high greed I guess.

    Would I still buy a 2011-12 Elantra? Absolutey. They’re an awesome car, and 40 miles per imperial gallon hwy is excellent for a car of that size and hp class. But I’d negotiate the out-the door price online beforehand, print/save a copy of the online correspondence and then present a copy when picking the car up. If they bait and switch I sue the bastards. Most dealers of course won’t give the time of day to someone attempting to negotiate online and that’s ok. I’m only interested in the few who will. It’s how I bought my last car (a Honda, no less) and saved over $1500.

    .

  • avatar
    DIYer

    I rented a bronze Elantra on a recent business trip to Waterloo, Iowa. It was all freeway driving, and I thought the steering was heavy for such a small car. It seemed like it wanted to wander outside the lane as it went down the road. The gas mileage was good, about 35 mpg.
    Avis called me the second day I had the vehicle, and asked me if I was driving a black Elantra. I told thme mine was bronze. Evidently, someone driven a black Elantra off their lot, and they had no record for it, and they asked if I had seen it.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    It’s now official- we bought an Elantra GLS with 6-spd manual to keep the ’09 Fit company. The Cruze, Focus and Civic just didn’t quite measure up.


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